MIAMI — Goran Dragic scored 20 points and Tyler Johnson added 19 as the Miami Heat beat the Chicago Bulls 97-91 on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time) to end a three-game slide.
Hassan Whiteside returned from a five-game absence with a bruised knee and scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Heat, who went 3-3 on their six-game homestand and gave coach Erik Spoelstra what has apparently become his annual gift — it was the fourth straight year Miami played and won on his birthday.
Spoelstra, 47, and his wife announced earlier Wednesday that they are expecting their first child, a son.
Lauri Markkanen scored 25 points and Robin Lopez added 22 for the Bulls, who were 7 for 28 from 3-point range and got five of those makes in the final 2 minutes. Chicago fell to 1-5, matching its worst start since 2007-08.
Dion Waiters also scored 13 for the Heat, who were without starting forward James Johnson — a late scratch with right knee tendinitis.
Miami was rolling early, up 20-6 after 8 minutes and 35-20 midway through the second quarter. The Bulls started 1 for 10 from the floor, Whiteside had eight rebounds in the game’s first 4:50 and everything was working for Miami.
That is, until the Bulls started attacking.
A 24-10 run by Chicago tied the game late in the half, seven of those field goals by the Bulls coming in close proximity to the rim. Chicago led by as many as six in the third and probably should have been up more, missing five shots at the rim late in the quarter.
The Heat reclaimed the lead with a 10-1 run to end the third, Tyler Johnson scoring five of those points and Dragic hitting a late 3 as Miami took a 67-64 lead into the fourth.
Bulls: Chicago tinkered with its starting lineup, adding David Nwaba and having Paul Zipser come off the bench. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is exploring certain combinations ahead of the looming return of Bobby Portis (suspension). … The Bulls trailed by as many as 14 in the first quarter, the earliest they’d faced such a deficit so early this season. … Justin Holiday missed 12 of his first 13 shots.
Heat: Whiteside made his 200th appearance with the Heat. … This was one of Miami’s four November home games. The Heat play at home three times in the next four weeks, and have 17 of their next 24 on the road. … Miami hasn’t lost four straight games in the same homestand since March 10-16, 2008. … Justise Winslow made his first shot, giving him seven straight makes over three games.
Wednesday marked the first time since March 26, 2003 that the Heat and Bulls played and Dwyane Wade wasn’t on either roster. Miami and Chicago played 71 times between 2003-04 and last season; Wade played for Miami in 64 of those games, sat out four and played for Chicago in the three Bulls-Heat matchups last season.
Among the 30 current NBA coaches, only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has held his job longer than Spoelstra. But there are only nine coaches who are younger than the Heat sideline boss: Luke Walton, Tyronn Lue, Brad Stevens, Dave Joerger, former Heat assistant David Fizdale, Frank Vogel, Jason Kidd, Michael Malone and Hoiberg.